With Adam Goodes quietly and emotionally calling time on inarguably one of the greatest AFL careers in the modern era following the Swans defeat at the hands of North Melbourne in this past weekend’s First Semi Final, attention now turns to how the game will pay tribute to one of its true greats.
But it seems that, unlike the majority of other careers, Goodes’ will not be joining the traditional lap of honour motorcade at this year’s AFL Grand Final.
Worse still, Goodes seemingly has declined the invitation due to the fear that he will once again be booed by a braying crowd.
The ongoing saga surrounding Goodes and his treatment from the crowd – which many, including Goodes, believe to be racially motivated and evidence of the unawareness of systemic racism that remains ingrained in the culture of mainstream Australians – returned after Goodes was granted time away from the club to deal with the mental duress the issue caused him.
Crowds – including the one present on Saturday night – have again routinely booed Goodes regardless of his action on the field.
And seemingly it is for this reason that Goodes has declined the AFL’s offer to participate in the lap of honour.
Fair enough, too.
The lap of honour is a chance for former players to thank the footballing crowds for their support, and give one last wave goodbye to their careers.
Adam Goodes doesn’t owe any AFL crowd that.
A footballing public that has routinely called Adam a sook, a flog, all the names under the sun – despite very little media statements actually being made by him this year, and with his only real “crime” being standing up for himself and showing pride in his cultural heritage – does not deserve the honour of Goodes’ offering a humble wave of goodbye on the biggest stage.
It hasn’t earned that. And receiving it is nothing but validation for their shitty behaviour; a whitewashing of a very serious issue that passes the whole affair off as little more than “just part of the game.”
It’s sad, truly, that Adam will not be there in person to rightly take his place in footy’s upper pantheon.
A dual Brownlow medalist, two-time Premiership player, 372-game career should be venerated publicly with utmost respect and reverence.
But perhaps his absence – as much as people like Eddie McGuire are insisting it should not occur – is finally the real first step on the path towards a better day for our societal attitudes towards race.
It’s a physical removing of the issue from the football bubble; a statement that this doesn’t just exist within stadium walls, it extends beyond it.
It is not just a part of the game. It is real. It is serious. And it needs to be addressed by everyone.
That, despite all his on-field achievements, could well be Adam Goodes’ greatest legacy.
Photo: Ryan Pierse via Getty Images.